La hoguera de las vanidades (Vanities burned at the stake) is Ar- temio’s first exhibition in a Mexican gallery. The “Rolls-Royce of Mexican art”, his extensive career has made him a benchmark of contemporary art in this country. It is no coincidence that he chose an exhibition space that doubles as a commercial venue to present a project that highlights the complicated relationships between art, money and power. What better place than an art fair to lay bare the contemporary art market, in all its complexity and contradictions? Galleries, much like art fairs, are fundamental to the trade which governs the world of contemporary art, one of the most lucrative businesses of our time but also one whose modus operandi can seem mysterious and aloof. Through his work, Artemio has repeat- edly criticized the relationship between structures of power and the violence they produce. The world of contemporary art, to him, is the ideal case study. Over the years, he has composed a critical view of the part the artist plays within the context of contemporary art fairs, and how they are sometimes relegated to a mere supporting role. To Artemio, contemporary art fairs are oppressive mausoleums, de- lusions of grandeur, where the spectacular and pecuniary aspects of the pieces seem to prevail over the desire to show original and daring works. Vanities burned at the stake serves as both an act of personal cleansing and an exorcism.
This project originated from ARTDEFACTO, a contemporary art company founded by Artemio, which took commissions and creat- ed 3 different products: similar, “unpublished”, and generic art. For many years, Artemio also produced contemporary pocket art for his personal use : small, portable works which he could travel with and use to appropriate new spaces. Finally, he has participated and visited numerous art fair through the years. Taken together, these elements meshed together to create “Contemporary Art Apart Fair”, CAAF/CDMX 2019, a fair that promises to reveal the gaps left open by other art fairs by banking on the generic, the similar, the copy, the useless, the absurd, the cliché and –in precious few instances– the unique and daring.
The works in this fair were meticulously crafted by Artemio in col- laboration with other artists and friends. Although some pieces were voluntarily conceived as generic or similar to those of other artists, each one of the 42 booths reflects a particular aesthetic, as is true in any art fair.
Artemio is aware that he is part of the contemporary art system, and it is precisely from this position of belonging that his opposition orig- inates, from where its deficiencies and imperfections can be point- ed out. He achieves this with CAAF/CDMX 2019, relying once again on the humor and incisive irony that define his work.